By Michael Wetzel
For more than 70 years, professor Ronald Weller Fisher has served faithfully as a minister of the gospel. On Sunday, April 16, he carefully made his way to the stage at West Lansing Church of Christ in Michigan for his final sermon. Alumni, former professors, and church members watched as Fisher settled into a chair, and the audience then listened to him share on what he called his favorite subject, “Jesus Christ and His Church.”
Among those present was Fisher’s good friend and recently retired evangelist Terry Strickler, who said he loved how the sermon started: “I have four points to my sermon,” said Fisher. “Some preachers don’t use points. When that happens, their sermons end up pointless.”
A FULL LIFE
Ron Fisher accepted the Lord when he was 9 years old and at 17 preached his first sermon at his home church in Palmyra Township, Ohio.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in ministry and a master’s degree from Cincinnati Bible Seminary and has served Jesus and the church in several ministries: Montezuma (Ohio) Church of Christ from 1949 to 1956; West Side Church of Christ in South Bend, Ind., from 1956 to 1963; South Redford Church of Christ in Detroit, Mich. from 1963 to 1971; Northview Christian Church in Coldwater, Mich., from 1972 to 2002; and as an elder with the West Lansing church.
Most notably, Fisher taught at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Mich., from 1971 to 2001, where many students enjoyed his expertise in the Bible and theology.
“Mr. Fisher preached to and taught four generations of ministers, youth ministers, Christian educators, and missionaries,” said GLCC president Frank Weller, who was present for Fisher’s final sermon. “His kingdom impact is so enormous that its full scope is known only to God.”
CLINICS, BOOKS, CONVENTIONS . . . AND GLCC
Chris Kopy Oxender, who also was present April 16, remembers Fisher from those days at the South Redford church and from youth rallies. Oxender said Fisher was “at the Wolverine camp I attended each summer. I remember him talking, laughing, and teaching us kids.”
Fisher also led various clinics about elders and deacons, Restoration Movement history, and Calvinism. He wrote for The Gospel Impact, Christian Standard, Restoration Herald, and other magazines. Among his longer works were the books The Scriptural Relationships of Elders, Deacons, and Evangelists and You Vote in Your Own Election.
In the 1960s, he served as vice president of the Michigan Christian Convention in Lansing, Mich. In that capacity, he planned the event attended by 1,400 people at the Civic Center.
‘WISDOM AND SCRIPTURAL DEPTH‘
During his earliest days at GLCC, I was a first-year student in one of Mr. Fisher’s classes. We had just come out of the hippie days and Jesus Movement, and though students were required to wear dress clothes and ties, several of us attended his classes in frayed jeans, old flannel shirts, and combat boots (not to mention our long, bushy hair). Back then, I was making a statement that clashed with the standards of the college and my professor.
Our Lord obviously has a sense of humor, for about 40 years later I found myself serving as an elder with Mr. Fisher on the board at West Lansing Church of Christ. Through the love of Jesus, we have become great friends and now enjoy an occasional KFC dinner together while sharing stories of ministry and scriptural treasures.
Many students and friends share those same kinds of stories about Fisher. His life has been a wealth of wisdom and scriptural depth.
“I used to listen to older retiring ministers, and I got tired of their reminiscing,” Fisher confided during that final sermon. “But now that I have been in the ministry for 74 years, I can understand why they reminisce.” (That disclosure drew laughs and then applause.)
Retired GLCC professor Walt Zorn called Fisher’s message “a great sermon we all need to hear again and again.”
Immediately after the sermon, GLCC’s Weller presented a framed proclamation from the college that detailed Fisher’s lifetime accomplishments and declared April 16, 2023, as “Ronald W. Fisher Day.”
“I didn’t expect that they did such detective work on my life,” Fisher said after examining the proclamation. “It makes me tired just to think about it.”
‘IN CHRIST ALONE’
The service ended with Fisher making a passionate plea for those outside of Christ to come forward and be buried with the Lord. The accompanying song, “In Christ Alone”—one of Fisher’s favorites—reminded us of the full gospel message of Jesus Christ. The final verse of the song begins, “No guilt in life, no fear in death,” and ends, “Till He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.” Many were touched by the song and by Fisher’s message that morning.
Professor Ronald Weller Fisher continues to proclaim his faith in Jesus and stands strong as he waits for his Lord’s return or for the day he enters his eternal home.
And he continues to remain faithful in helping care for Marilyn, his wife of 70 years, who was unable to attend that day, but who he remembered at the start of his sermon. After a lifetime of faithful partnership in ministry, Marilyn is now in a memory care facility where he visits her on a regular basis.
Michael Wetzel serves as the executive director of Shepherd’s Purse ministry (www.shepherdspurse.org).